It was announced the other day that Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” and “Colbert Report” can now be found on Hulu. (Hulu is the joint venture between NBC and News Corp where you can watch selected episodes of dozens of TV shows online for free. No downloading permitted and there are ads, but, hey…) Viacom, which owns Comedy Central, is the first major network to sign with Hulu since its launch.
Clips of The Daily Show have been available for awhile on DailyShow.com for free. All of which got me thinking: what will this mean for cable TV providers? Sticking with the example of Comedy Central for a second, let’s play it out:
Your cable company pays each channel or parent company a carriage fee based on how many subscribers that system has. Those costs are then passed on to you in the form of your insanely high cable bill. (I’m simplifying this, but not a lot.) Now, it is not a stretch to say that “Daily Show” and “Colbert Report” are the flagship shows on Comedy Central. I have no idea what their ratings are, but without those two shows, Comedy Central would turn into a test pattern tomorrow. “Mind of Mencia” ain’t keeping the lights turned on over there.
So, imagine you’re Comcast. You are paying Comedy Central a certain fee per month to include that channel in your line up. And then you turn around and find out that they’re giving it away for free. You see where this is going, right? I am not defending cable companies. That is not the point. The point is, we are starting to see the tectonic shift on how content is delivered and what logically follows is how that content is paid for. This is big, folks. And it will have far reaching ramifications.
UPDATE: Since I wrote this, look at what the BBC is planning. Holy crap!